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Road to Rio: Heena Sidhu, India’s world record-holding shooter, aims for glory at Olympics

Name: Heena Sidhu

Age: 26

Discipline (sport): Shooting

Category: 10 m Air Pistol women, 25 m Pistol women

Qualification: Sidhu won the gold medal in women's 10 m Air Pistol at the Asia Olympic Qualifiers for Shooting in Delhi to claim her Rio berth.

Strengths: Sidhu is a talented shooter, with a world record in 10m Air Pistol to show for it. Her biggest strength is her determination – in her own words, she aims to become the best shooter in the world and win an Olympics medal for India. Coupled with her intense training, improved trigger action and rising performances since the last Olympic Games, she will be a medal prospect to watch out for.

Past Olympic performance: Finished 12th in the qualification round in women's 10 metre Air Pistol at the 2012 London Olympics

Past record (best performances): Gold medal 10m Air Pistol at 2013 World Cup in Munich
Silver medal in 10m Air Pistol at 2009 World Cup in Beijing
Silver medal in 10m Air Pistol at 2014 World Cup in Fort Benning
Silver medal in 10m Air Pistol at 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi
Silver medal in 10m Air Pistol at 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou
Gold medal in 10 metre Air Pistol (pairs), with Annu Raj Singh, at the 2010 Commonwealth Games
Bronze in 25m Air Pistol (Team) at 2014 Asian Games in Incheon

Rio Prospects: If Sidhu can keep her nerves at the event, drawing on the experience from her previous Olympics and World Cup performances, she has the potential to win a medal in Rio.

 Road to Rio: Heena Sidhu, India’s world record-holding shooter, aims for glory at Olympics

Heena Sidhu. AFP

Heena Sidhu is currently one of the best pistol shooters, not just in India, but in the world. She holds the Finals World record in 10 m Air Pistol with a final score of 203.8 and became the first female Indian pistol shooter to be ranked World Number one by the International Shooting Sport Federation (ISSF) in 2014.

Owing to her performances since her last Olympics, one would expect to see her in the top eight in 10m Air Pistol Olympics event, qualifying for the final and contesting for a medal.

The Arjuna Award winner has been in good form off late, clinching the gold medal in the Asian Air Gun Championships and Asian Shooting Championships in Kuwait in September and November 2015, respectively.

The Patiala-born athlete has been hard at work ever since the 2012 London Olympics, in which she secured the 12th position. For Sidhu it’s not just about medals and Olympic glory, she is focused on giving the best results and working hard to achieve them. “It’s not about medal, it’s about performance. My job is to give 100 percent. It’s about the process, even if I win a medal nothing will change in my life. I will again prepare for the next Olympics and the one after that,” she was quoted as saying by PTI.

She received a huge boost to materialise these results from the Sports Ministry as well. The ministry increased her financial aid Rs 75 lakh to Rs one crore under the Target Olympic Podium Scheme (TOPS).

Shooting has always been a family affair for Sidhu. Her father Rajbir Sidhu is a national level shooter, her uncle a gunsmith, and her husband Ronak Pandit is a former shooter as well, who has now taken up the role of her coach. The shooting duo also run the Ronak Pandit Shooting Centre to discover more Indian talent for the sport.

Even though Sidhu carries the burden of a nation's expectations, she doesn't believe in succumbing to pressure. She has learnt from her experiences in London and intends to do better this time. In an interview with the website Indian Shooting, she said that,"Now that I went through it last time and know how it affects me, I have prepared accordingly and will be looking forward to using this situation to my advantage."

As the description on her official Facebook page says, her "ultimate goal is to bring laurels for the country by winning an Olympic medal," and Rio 2016 will be the best opportunity for Sidhu to fulfill this goal.

With inputs from agencies 

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Updated Date: Jul 22, 2016 17:45:12 IST